If you're looking for work, a cover letter, CV and interviews are often not enough to land the job. Employers no longer just want information about candidates; they want to experience candidates. This shift reflects society's move from the Information Age to the Experience Age. Hiring practices have evolved, with HR leaders adopting social media, technology platforms and software applications with experience-driven interfaces that highlight human interaction. Employers are increasingly using technology in their hiring practices to experience job seekers in different ways than they have done historically.
How does the Experience Age impact today’s job search?
hiring trends in the experience age
According to Gartner, 89% of organisations have shifted to virtual recruiting since the initial COVID-19 outbreak and working remotely is fast becoming the norm. These shifts in the market are not likely to fully reverse, which means remote hiring practices are here to stay.
The rise of virtual recruitment – even before the pandemic hit – has made it possible, in some cases, to conduct an entire job search using only a phone, as some employers have adopted mobile-based recruiting and application solutions. In addition to mobile job applications, such a hiring process might include text message interviews, which some organisations are embracing to eliminate bias (gender, age, ethnicity). Another possibility is completing an interview or assessment via chatbot, which can be used to filter out candidates during early hiring steps.
While social media has been used during the hiring process for some time, without the option to meet with candidates in person, it offers hiring stakeholders the opportunity to get to learn more about candidates. Recruiters and hiring stakeholders are active on social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which enables them to identify candidates based on their posts about their experiences, passions and opinions.
Assessment tools have been used in hiring practices for decades to identify skills and temperament – and there is an ever-increasing selection of online tools to make the hiring process more effective. Now more than ever, it is important to keep this process as streamlined as possible while it is being conducted remotely. According a LinkedIn article on assessment tools, conventional interviews have a limited ability to assess skills. Assessment tools can evaluate personality, aptitude and hard skills and offer the opportunity for candidates who don’t interview well or have less experience or education to shine.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is enveloping hiring and automating it in a variety of ways, often up front, to screen and shortlist candidates. Predictive analytics is an AI method used to analyse current and historical facts from data sources such as CV, social media and assessments to make predictions about how candidates will perform. Sentiment analysis is another form of AI that uses natural language processing and text analysis to extract information about job seekers. Simply put, these forms of AI can gauge the opinions and experiences of job seekers and help determine whether they might be a fit for the company and open role.
job auditions are standard practice
Beyond technology adoption by HR stakeholders, as a career coach, another trend I’ve noticed is an increase in job seekers participating in new experiential hiring practice that require completion of a project. These projects serve as an audition for the job because interviews alone don’t always predict job performance. These tryouts enable employers to evaluate a candidate’s long-term potential, assess their traits, experience their enthusiasm and passion, and see the candidate’s skills being put into action. These are great opportunities for job seekers to highlight their talent and abilities and make connections with hiring stakeholders.
A job audition could come in the form of a case study, a 30-60-90-day plan, a presentation and Q&A session with a panel, a role play captured on video or a day on the job. The latter might even involve being paid to work on a project at a company for a day, or even weeks. Automattic is one example of a company that has been holding auditions for years. These consist of paid part-time work designed to fit into a candidate’s schedule and typically have a duration of 2-8 weeks. Automattics’s CEO, Matt Mullenweg, has found that all individuals involved in the audition process – including the candidate and current employees – gain a better sense of whether they want to work together moving forward. Even when candidates don’t receive an offer after an audition, they obtain feedback and experience throughout the process that can help them improve their skills. In many cases, auditions are valuable opportunities for job seekers.
Similarly, hotel chain CitizenM recruit their hotel employees using a Casting Day. Groups of candidates complete four exercises over the course of a day while other CitizenM employees observe them for cultural fit and alignment with company values - surprise, connect, touch and real.
tips for job seekers
As one on the front line of today’s job search, here are six tips to help candidates land a job during the Experience Age:
conduct a passive job search
Recruiters and hiring stakeholders focus just as much on candidates not looking for a job as they do on active job seekers. You could land your next role through a passive job search in which you simply set up job alerts and receive push notifications about new open roles on a regular basis. As a passive job seeker, it’s important to keep your social profiles up to date, especially LinkedIn, and be prepared to talk about your work experience if you receive an interview request.
manage your online presence
Your online profiles are representative of both your personal and professional personas, so be discriminating with what you put out into the world because potential employers are looking. Consider implementing a purposeful online branding initiative for yourself to ensure your messaging is telling the right stories to attract job opportunities. As an example, asking contacts to endorse your skills or write recommendations on your LinkedIn profile helps recruiters validate your competencies and get a sense of what it is like to work with you. Consider sharing articles or research related to your industry on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social channels, to show potential hiring stakeholders you’re passionate about your line of work. And be careful not to post pictures or information about yourself that could potentially reflect negatively during your job search.
dedicate time to networking
I hear regularly from clients that their job search results improved once they started networking. Reaching out to known contacts and establishing new connections who can facilitate a job search is the most productive activity of successful job seekers. A good tactic for networking is to reach out to your contacts at companies of interest for informational interviews, which will help you learn more about a company or a specific role. This approach is also helpful for interview practice. Even if you set up an informational interview in the absence of a job opening, you are building a bridge for the future and creating an opportunity for someone to experience you and potentially refer you. A good rule of thumb is to spend 70% of your job search time dedicated to networking activities. This approach will help you tap into a hidden job market, make instant connections and bypass the challenges of competing with the masses on the job boards.
get comfortable with video interviewing
Learn how to use video meeting tools such as Zoom that are now an essential part of the recruiting process by watching a training video and learning to share your screen. This will help you demonstrate your work on the screen and reinforce your experience.
be realistic about your expectations
I often hear frustration from job seekers when they aren’t getting the traction they hoped for in their job search. In most instances, the reason is that their application did not show strong evidence of meeting the key requirements of a job and their expectations of getting a response were unrealistic.
One way to set your expectations is to read a job posting multiple times with a discriminating eye. Read every word. Read between the lines. Analyse. Interpret. Identify the key words. If a job posting says it is mandatory to have banking experience, for example, and you don’t have any, but you meet all the other requirements, your chances are slim. The most prevalent mistake job seekers make is ignoring keywords from the job posting. AI built into applicant tracking systems is ranking you based on keywords on your resume. A potential tool to help job seekers navigate past the keyword screening is Jobscan. No matter how much you believe you can do the job, you probably won’t hear back from a company if you don’t display the necessary skills and experience through your CV, cover letter and application.
be current and relevant
Employers focus on your most recent experience when evaluating your candidacy and on whether your methodologies are current and relevant. If you feel you are lacking in this regard, you may need to upskill by completing a LinkedIn Learning or Udemy course, for example, to demonstrate your current relevancy in your desired career field. Another option is to showcase your recent work on LinkedIn or your personal website, if applicable. For example, if you have been learning how to code and completed a few projects along the way, you can highlight these projects for hiring managers when they consider your application. To remain relevant, research current industry nomenclature and trends so that you come across as well-informed during the interview process.
Are you ready for a successful job search in the Experience Age? Learning about experiential hiring practices will enable you to thrive in the marketplace. Be prepared to make connections, demonstrate your capabilities and deliver an experience that will leave a memorable imprint on hiring stakeholders.